After a lot of diary examination and juggling all of my Classes for 2020 are published with a smattering of brand new exciting titles . . . .
The Still Room - make and take lovely things for your home, your body and your health. We will explore the non-toxic world of making what used to be called - aptly - Simples
Self Preservation - a gallop through a huge variety of of the preserving possibilities with sampling, tasting and some makes to take. This Class also works well as a stage talk so if you are struggling to find an interesting subject for a group of 50+ you may like to consider this.
Dehydrating for the Intrepid Traveller - do you love caravanning, camping, sailing or back packing? Take the weight off your food - eat a more varied diet all without cool boxes or refrigeration
The Summer Glut - just remember the piles of courgettes and tomatoes from last year and resolve to take a different approach this year. There's more to life than Green Tomato Chutney!
Homemade Drinks for Christmas - as exciting as it sounds. You will be amazed at what is possible to make, we'll have tasters and making - and taking of course
Last Minute Gifts for Christmas - truly a last minute life-saver and we will even have fun decorating and wrapping your gifts to take away. Even a Rosie Class would be a great Last Minute Gift for Christmas
All of my other Classes are listed and they are all fully supported with recipe booklets and information, an opportunity to buy hard-to-find ingredients on the day for more making at home, plus a chance to browse the shop with books, jars, bottles and equipment.
All refreshments and a lunch of local produce are included in the price.
Now, this title isn't what it seems - I have no answers for business success, especially in these troubled days.
Many of you know that I have been through two years of treatment for breast cancer and have now been in remission for around eighteen months, at the time of writing. Naturally during treatment, there was a lot to cope with and our business bobbled along as best it could - although I did manage to finally write a book, and two recipe books.
The remission period is something else entirely - there are no rules, no handy leaflets, you cope as best you can. I threw myself back into life on every level, often over-extending myself, periods of manic activity usually accompanied by insomnia where my thought processes were whirring non-stop. I often say to people who find being around me full-on if not downright exhausting - 'it's OK for you, you can go home.' I have to listen to me 24/7.
Lots got left as I leapt from one new project to another I think subconsciously I felt that my time was limited and I couldn't bear to waste a second of it. I couldn't settle on things for any length of time though and as a result often fell short of my own impossible standards. There were family commitments, work and teaching, regular gym work to fit in three times a week, physio on my arm, hospital appointments, WI meetings and planning and all of my hobbies. I am making myself feel tired just writing about it all.
The second anniversary of my mastectomy came around on the Winter Solstice on December, 21st 2019. On the first anniversary I was still directly dealing with the physical effects and it passed me by. This time around it hit me hard and I relived those few dark days and nights, almost minute by minute. I found that I had perfect recall and was constantly thinking 'this time two years ago.' I think that it is pretty clear that, until now I just hadn't dealt with it and this was me processing everything and as a result, I am now sailing in calmer waters. Much more ready to say No to things, evaluating - and respecting - my time and how, and on who, I spend it.
The planning comes into this evaluation. Husband Trev suggested that I produced a Planner for me and other preservers, which I did, which also made me think. I am now using it myself and what a godsend it is turning out to be. I have always used, and still like, a Filofax, and I have always made lists, but this is something else. I have all of my classes and teaching engagements where I can see at a glance what I am doing, which stops me getting over committed, the 'bunching' of bookings which mean I get overtired or even worse, I have to cancel.
I can see the seasons, what I could make, what needs to be prepped for classes, what shop stock I need to plan for, shows I am going to, ideas I have, notes that I know I will need later. It is only the first part of January but already I feel much more on top of things and capable - and above all, positive and professional.
I used to think that Planners were for people who just wanted to spend a lot of time organising what they would do but not actually doing anything. All the coloured pens and stickers, lists and hash tags. I was wrong and I apologise for thinking that.
This is what I meant by my title - by planning I am much more likely to achieve my own personal standards and save myself all of that angst and recrimination which will make the whole of my life so much more enjoyable.
This is my first serious blog since my illness, I just got out of the habit but I have really missed it. Hopefully I can now get back to writing regularly and all of those nocturnal ideas and thoughts will get recorded and maybe even put into action. It's feels good to be back
You can own one too: Planner and Recipe Books
At this time of the year our thoughts turn to the Summer months ahead with holidays, picnics, impromtu lunches outside and all sorts of delights. Unfortunately, these events have to be very last minute as we never know what the weather will bring us, often from hour to hour. You might have a friend call round for coffee and before you know it, it's lunchtime and you feel compelled to extend an offer to share some further refreshments.
At times like this it is very handy to have something delicious that you can fall back on, something tasty but not something that may be rejected on dietary grounds. If you have some oat cakes or crackers, some crusty bread even and a few bits of salad an impressive snack can soon be conjured up if you have this cheese in your cupboard.
It is very easy to make and can be made and eaten fresh, as they do in its homeland, the Middle East. No need to shape just put it into a pretty bowl and top with a swirl of good olive oil and some black pepper. I like to make it to keep and I think you will to. Why not give it a try?
You will need:-
Two big tubs of good quality plain unsweetened yoghurt
A small amount of dried herbs of your choice
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2-3 bay leaves
Good quality olive oil to cover
The first thing to do is to place a jelly bag or a straining cloth of muslin over a large bowl. Empty the yoghurt into the bag/cloth and hang up somewhere overnight to drain.
Pour around 3 cms/1 inch of olive oil into a large jar and carefully place the balls of cheese into the oil using one of your spoons. When you have a layer add more oil so that they don't stick together too much.
Add the coriander and bay leaves as you go. Make sure the last layer is covered with oil.
The cheese will keep for a long time - store it somewhere cool and dark - and you can lift out how many pieces you need for your meal and leave the rest covered in the jar.
When you have finished the jar you can use the oil which will be beautifully flavoured with the herbs, for cooking or salad dressings.
Since we took on the role with Trading Standards under their Primary Authority Partnership we have been fairly — or more accurately, unfairly — battered by artisans who are upset that we have to advise them of the Law and Regulations. ‘Who are you to tell me what to do’ being the general tone.
Before we invest more of our time in this process would you like to put forward your point of view? We have a meeting with Trading Standards next week and it would be useful to be able to give them some pointers for the future.
It would seem that most people want the Jam & Similar Products ( England ) 2003 to just go away. That is, if they knew about them in the first place. The simple quiz that we ran a few weeks ago generated a pass rate of just 30% with most not even having the most basic knowledge of the requirements of the Law. This doesn’t apply just to producers by the way, most of the individuals involved in the industry seem to have no understanding either.
So having no legislation for artisan production — which we have been told by some is just red tape anyway — means no protection for the consumer. Should it just be buyer beware?
How would you decide whether to put allergens on or not? How would you know what they are? If someone wants to buy marmalade or jams with horseradish, carrot cake, vinegar, milk, laver, anything-you-like, then should it be possible for that to be a thing?
Sugar, no-sugar, some sugar, sweeteners — but we don’t have to tell you how much, or what they are because there are no Regulations. What about durability, storage conditions, labelling requirements, weights and measures?
Let’s assume that this is what everyone wants, then how do we go about achieving it? Who is the ‘someone’ that needs to address it? How are you going to approach the powers that be to convince them that this is the way forward and ‘what everyone wants’?
You — someone — someone with the time to spare away from their business — someone you will need to pay — will probably need to organise you into a representative body, one that can have dialogues with Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Food Standards Agency, Food Information for Consumers, Health & Safety and above all Defra. A body to put forward your views and to be effective in making the artisan production in the United Kingdom the best that it can be. A body that can truly work for you and make significant progress on your behalf.
That’s who we think we are.
Our Industry Watch today concerns Sugar.
Villified and demonised as it is at the present time, ordinary sucrose has been in use since the 6th century and therefore cannot be at the forefront of the massive health issues we have had in the last forty years. It is vital as a food preservative, it is inert, is one of the only foodstuffs on sale with no ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dating.
We could be self sufficient in sugar production in this island, sugar beet farmers quietly get on with growing their harvest to be refined into the bags of sugar on the shelf by brands like Whitworths and Silver Spoon. This doesn’t mean that Tate & Lyle’s cane sugar is significantly different — it is all sucrose — it just means it hasn’t travelled as far.
Preservers should learn the power of this natural plant-based preservative and ensure that any modifications that they make to time-honoured recipes because ‘people don’t want to eat sugar’ ensures that they are still preserving the ingredients. There is something in me which whispers away that if you take out so much sugar that the product must be refrigerated then you are no longer preserving.
Jams and Similar Products, as per their regulations, are intended for storage at ambient temperature — if those regulations are not adhered to then the product cannot be known as ‘Jam’ or any of the permitted alternatives in the Law.
Let us not lose these ancient skills of being able to control and preserve harvest at ambient temperature — they are more important than you may think.
Right. Very quickly I bring you tidings of great joy this beautiful Spring Day. (Not!)
We have recently received the very welcome news from our supplier that all of our prices are being reduced . . . I know!
So, of course, we are passing that straight onto you. This isn't just a few pence thing - many prices, the majority, have gone done by several £££££s per box. Hard to believe I know, but there we are, miracles do happen.
(Whilst checking all of the prices in our database we did find one or two historical mistakes which means that we have had to adjust to the correct, higher, price but in the main every glass item on the website has fallen in price.)
To add to the fun, all Jarcessorise products are on BOGOFF this weekend up to midnight on Sunday. Whatever you order from these products will be doubled up by us. It won't show on your order but you will receive the correct amount
I am not going to delay you further as I am certain you cannot wait to stampede over to the website to check the prices of you fav jars and bottles.
These prices are not a special offer - they are honest-to-goodness genuine support for our customers
Well, I could talk about snow, show you pictures of our snow, ask for pictures of you snow . . . but I prefer to think that this is just a blip and that Spring is on it's way.
We have Mother's Day coming up, quickly followed by Easter and before we know it the Summer fruits will be arriving, we will have balmy, sunny days and bluebirds will be over the white cliffs of Dover. May be.
So I have devised a Designer Pack for the Summer Frocks Collection which would make an ideal gift for a preserving Mother's Day gift - either buy one for your Mother or drop very precise hints if you would like it for yourself! See the video below to see what is included ( not the jars - they are special acting jars) The contents, details and price is here. Great price, easy to post, huge fun for a dedicated preserver.
We also have the popular Summer Frocks lids on special offer for the upcoming holidays so if this is a lid that you use regularly, now is the time to stock up.
Finally, if you are snowed in, it would be a very good opportunity to overhaul your stocks of jars ready for the coming season. Make sure your lids are still in good condition and that you have all of the equipment you need ready.
We still have lots of bargains and great prices on the website to take advantage of and you can be ahead of the game when the weather improves.
Keep warm and safe people
y Well, it's been a while and you are probably thinking that I have disappeared!
Sadly at the end of last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and life went into a bit of a tailspin. As most of you who are regular customers know, we are a very small company - just me and Trev really, with help from my son Rob, so the pressure this has exerted has been immense.
Day to day orders have for the most part been fine, being monitored and processed between us but the development of offers, showcasing recipes and all of the other things that I do - largely unsung - behind the scenes have had to go onto the back burner for a while.
I underwent a surgery in November which highlighted further problems so this was followed by a mastectomy on 21 December - which made for an interesting Christmas. Histology following that op has found further problems so I have just entered the chemotherapy programme, with the first of 8 cycles being given last week. So far I feel fine, the problems have been minimal but I will have to see how we go. After chemo I am planned to have a course of radiotherapy and I have decided to have the second, preventative mastectomy at the end of it all for peace of mind. So, this is going to take a while, have ups and downs but we will endeavour to still do our best and may be think of new and innovative ways to take everything forward, because needs must. All good stuff.
The first of this is online courses. I can't be committed to my physical classes quite so much at the moment so we are recording the classes as an online format which you can access and join in with wherever you are, whenever it suits you. The first is How to Make Marmalade and you can find out just how easy it is for yourself. There are lots of hints and tips, quality advice and ways to vary the recipe to include different flavours. Once you have signed up to the course you can use it over and over again so is excellent value for money. There will be downloads and other information as time goes by to help build your skill and expertise.
I hope that you like the new things to come - and, of course, we will still be bringing you offers and bargains as they arise.
Well, you answered my question - thank you.
We have decided to ignore Black Friday and carry on what with what we do all of the time. Bring you great deals as a matter of course and show you interesting ideas.
First up this week is a perpetual Advent Calendar. We have boxed 24 small jars and gold lids with a pack of numbered labels and some Christmassy red and white baker's twine. The jars can be filled with small gifts of your choice to suit the age of the recipient and they don't need to be expensive.
Once emptied the jars can be stored to be used again next year, and the year after.
Watch my helpful video and then grab a pack before the end of the month.
Pack costs just £10.00 plus postage
contents not included
The Bumper Christmas Jarcessorise Pack has 50 elements from the festive jar decorations at just HALF PRICE. The contents are all current stock and will bring a festive look to your home made gifts. there are jar wraps, trims, ribbons, raffia, buttons, tags and jar lids.
We've even made some paperchains . . . .
Buy now while stocks last
Finally - a brilliant addition to our packaging range - the two bottle kraft box. Excellent value at just a £1.00, your home made gifts can look really smart or if you are a producer, these sit very well on a shelf or display stand. Particularly good as they have a flat top.
Hope you like our festive bargains and that they help you with your preparations
It's that time of year again. No not Halloween. Not Bonfire Night. Not Christmas . . . .
Black Friday. November 27th. The Day of Madness.
The thing is - as a company we need to join in. This has become A Thing. Not something you can ignore or avoid. Our problem is we give you the very best prices all the year around. You can believe it or not, there is very little room for us to reduce anything, or make outrageous offers. We can't offer free carriage, for instance, or we would be selling everything at a loss. Any cheaper things we could buy in specially would sap our integrity - we made the decision in the early days to only sell things we believed in, that we would use ourselves.
We are constantly undermined by our competitors, the market is flooded with cheap glass from China which isn't necessarily food grade glass. Of products that are just a gimmick, don't last, and of poor quality - but how are you supposed to be able to tell them apart? You can trust what we do every single day, how hard we work to maintain the standards, to not compromise on quality but always to bring you savings where we can, to offer what we can.
How then, do we cope with Black Friday? What can we offer you that will fit our criteria of only buying quality and selling at a fair price? I admit we are stumped.
Perhaps you can advise, tell us what you want to see us achieve, and we will do what we can.
The proviso is though, that we would prefer not to only do that on one day in the year.
Having said all of that, this week we have a new range of Italian bottles - Quattro Stagione. There is a set of four 150ml squat bottles, and also a 1200ml, 400ml and 1000ml. They are well priced, easy to fill, easy to empty and very smart with the embossed name on one side and a fruit design on the other. They have a continuous screw cap and are ideal for sauces etc and bottling/waterbathing.
It's a busy time of year but still time to get some presents or preserves made. Have fun!